Sticherus cunninghamii


Sticherus: in rows; from the greek sticheres; arrangement of the spore clusters
cunninghamii: Named after Allan Cunningham (1791 – 1839) who was an English botanist and explorer, primarily known for his travels to Australia (New South Wales) and New Zealand to collect plants. Author of Florae Insularum Novae Zelandiae Precursor, 1837-40 (Introduction to the flora of New Zealand).

Common Name(s)

Umbrella fern, Waekura, Tapuwae kotuku

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Sticherus cunninghamii (Hook.) Ching



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class



Gleichenia cunninghamii Hook.


Endemic. New Zealand; North, South, Stewart and Auckland Islands. Widespread and common, though often absent from large parts of the eastern side of the two main islands


Coastal to montane (but mostly coastal only in the wetter western part of the South Island, and in Stewart and Auckland Islands). Usually in forest where it may at times form the dominant ground cover. Also common along shaded stream banks, and in wetter areas a prominent fern along roadside cuttings.


Rhizomatous fern. Rhizomes long creeping, copiously covered in scales. Fronds erect, up to 1.4 m high. Stipes 0.2-0.5(-0.8) m long, pale brown, scaly and hairy, scales ciliate, hairs stellate. Rachises in 1-3 tiers, each forking 3-4×, 120-300 mm from the stipe to tip of the longest branch, spreading and drooping in the form of an umbrella, abundantly scaly; apex of each fork terminated by a bud. Pinnae up to 15 × 3 mm, linear, acute, veins free, adaxially green, abaxially glaucous white or white. Sori in one row either side of midrib, set well away from pinna margins, consisting of c.5 aggregated sporangia, indusia absent. Description adpated from Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000).

Similar Taxa

Easily distinguished from Sticherus flabellatus var. flabellatus and S. tener by the shorter, scaly frond, narrower and much longer frond divisions, and by the pinnules which are shorter and wider and which usually have white to whitish-glaucescent undersides.



Flower Colours

No Flowers



Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the wild.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 68

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 16 March 2011. Description adapted from Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000).

References and further reading

Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand Ferns and Allied Plants. Auckland, David Bateman

This page last updated on 19 Jan 2014